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Electoral Commission

Oral Answers to Questions — Constitutional Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2006.

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Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

What recent assessment she has made of the operation of the Electoral Commission.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Electoral Commission is an independent body established by Parliament, reporting to the Speaker's Committee. The Committee on Standards in Public Life and the Speaker's Committee are currently reviewing separate aspects of the operation of the Electoral Commission.

Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North

Does my right hon. and learned Friend not agree that although the Electoral Commission has independent status, it needs clear, transparent accountability too? Does she think that reporting to the Speaker's Committee fulfils that function?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The fact that the Electoral Commission is answerable to the Speaker's Committee fulfils an important function, but Members of Parliament can ask Constitutional Affairs Ministers about its work on electoral registration, election fraud and, for example, registration of service voters, so we have that additional transparency. Representatives of the Electoral Commission are also happy to meet individual Members of Parliament to discuss its work.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Will the Minister refer to the Electoral Commission for its consideration the question that has arisen six times since 2.30 pm today? We understand that Ministers do not like English votes on English matters. Do they understand, and could she remind the Electoral Commission, that many English people do not want regional assemblies or extra politicians? Could she ask the Electoral Commission to come up with a solution that would be acceptable in all parts of the House?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I do not think that that would come within the Electoral Commission's remit. That is not what it was set up to do, and it would be odd and wrong to give it that responsibility, which is a matter for this House.